DISCUSSION for PROF-it (Professors-In-Training): Multi-Campus and Online Events

USM

For pre-approved multi-campus events that are not held at UMBC, including online webinars and short-term courses (e.g., through the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, or CIRTL), PROF-it participants may describe their experiences and lessons learned, critiquing their developing skills as they go. Use the comment space below to add your perspective after attending one of these multi-campus events.

Do you know of an upcoming event that is not currently listed in our main PROF-it (Professors-In-Training) page? Please use the comment box on the main page to submit this event in advance and to find out whether credit may apply toward future recommendations to teach at one of our partner institutions.

Instructions: Please list the following information in addition to your reflection about the take-home messages that you gained from the session you attended. Overall: What would you like to remember and apply to your future teaching and faculty contributions a year or two from now? Include:

  • Location of the event (including any online institution’s website)
  • Presenter(s) or key speakers
  • Time and date of event
  • Take-home messages and gains in skills
  • Other notes, comments about improving the session, if applicable.

10 Comments on “DISCUSSION for PROF-it (Professors-In-Training): Multi-Campus and Online Events”

  1. Trevor Needham
    October 28, 2014 at 12:16 PM #

    The CIRTL session on teaching STEM to under represented groups was very helpful for me to understand how to think about new students. One of the main points was that STEM is its own language and you must teach both the language and the subject.

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    • November 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM #

      I love the idea of STEM as its own language. This approach makes sure that, as teachers, we are not assuming that our students come into our courses knowing every aspect of the language. Even if they’ve had more or less exposure/experience, there are ways of learning language that can be more effective than others, so it’s our job to help students get from their current understanding to the more proficient outcomes via effective “language learning” processes. Did you have any ideas coming out of the session as to how you might approach the teaching process for students from different backgrounds?

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      • Trevor Needham
        November 13, 2014 at 4:40 PM #

        Hi Alexis, I think the seminar taught me to change the approach. I remember tutoring freshman chemistry and not realizing t’he problem was that the student didn’t understand that when I used the word “mole” referred to a numerical amount, like a “dozen”. Once I discovered that I was able to explain the definition of the word and move on to the application.

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  2. Trevor Needham
    October 28, 2014 at 12:49 PM #

    I attended the CIRTL session on Teaching and Learning in the American System on 10/28. The session was taught by presenters from UMD. The presenters demonstrated that in the US system we have had a grade inflation over the past 40 years with close of 40% receiving A’s. This trend however did not apply to many STEM classes where only 12% had an A average. We also talked about the advantages of using a Rubric for grading assignments.

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    • November 7, 2014 at 10:02 AM #

      Hi Trevor,

      The issue of grade inflation is incredibly interesting. As you attended the session, did you get a sense of where you stand on the issue? Are you of the mindset, for instance, that the A average should be closer to the percentages seen in STEM, that maybe more students should be getting As, or that maybe each is fine for the particular discipline based on how these grades are interpreted later? For the use of rubrics, what was recommended in order to increase transparency and help students address each of the assignment requirements?

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      • Trevor Needham
        November 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM #

        I think there is an expectation of more academic rigor in STEM classes. Most people understand that getting a B is really good in a class like Organic Chemistry. I don’t hear that as often for a 200 level course in other disciplines, yet they are both sophomore level classes. They did recommend publishing the rubric to help students perform better, but also increase transparency and fairness.

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  3. Trevor Needham
    October 28, 2014 at 1:04 PM #

    Also, the next session will be on finding an Academic Job on 11/04.

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  4. Trevor Needham
    November 18, 2014 at 2:54 PM #

    I attended the session “Thriving in your first year as faculty” today and found their discussion on time management to have plenty of application in my life now as a grad student trying to balance research, course work, and family. They also said to remember that you don’t need to know everything on a subject you are teaching, just what you need your students to know.

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    • November 18, 2014 at 6:04 PM #

      That’s always an excellent piece of advice, Trevor. My teaching coordinator always says, just be pretty good. Know your stuff and then learn how to say, “That’s a great question! I’ll look into it OR you look for the answer and see if you can stump me when we come back next class…”

      Regarding the time management discussion, what you learn in graduate study will keep you busy for the rest of your life. You learn about the process of managing many responsibilities and personal goals, and if you keep your focus now, it will help you in multiples beyond the degree.

      Regarding your discussion of transparency and rigor above, I was just having a conversation about DFW rates – the rates of students receiving Ds and Fs, or withdrawing for courses at the University of Maryland. Courses might be rigorous AND transparent while supporting the needs of diverse learners; there can be continuous course and student assessment and feedback that allow for even “tough” classes to have high achievement overall.

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  5. Trevor Needham
    November 18, 2014 at 9:22 PM #

    I think that is true about making sure students can pass “tough” classes, although I do wonder about if all student want to put in the work. I wonder if intro-intro classes might be better to help address those issues. Students who have the drive would be willing to put in the time to bring their knowledge up while preserving the rigor in the other levels. I believe that is how Cornell helps students with Chemistry, by providing a preliminary course before the semester begins to help students meet their potential and goals. I think about all the people who say they want to be a doctor with the best intentions but change their mind when they realize the work required to pass pre-med requirements. I also wonder if demanding careers have a right to demand high expectations of the students. I am reminded of a course in the Army to become a bomb technician, the passing score for that course was a 90%. When you are dealing with something that can kill you (or others) how do you define failure? Similarly, do you want a doctor that properly diagnoses 70% of the time.

    I was amazed when I transferred into an Engineering field how common it is for students to drop classes or have to retake them. As a result, most undergraduate engineer degrees require 5 years. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but again, I don’t want my bridge to be correctly designed most of the time.

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